The introduction of failure to disclose and failure to protect offences in Victoria

In April 2012, The Victorian Government initiated a landmark inquiry into handling of child abuse allegations within religious and other non-government organisations. The inquiry’s final report Betrayal of Trust was tabled in Parliament on 13 November 2013 and contained recommendations which included the  introduction of criminal offences for failing to disclose and to protect in regard to child sex abuse.

Laws introduced in October 2014 have now made responding to child sex abuse a community-wide responsibility. Additional laws are about to come into effect (likely July 2015) that will compel those  in positions of authority within organisations who work with young people  to protect them from risk of sex abuse.  It is important that all Victorians are aware of how these new laws could affect them in both their personal and professional lives.

Like  training  on these new laws ?

Youthlaw has applied for funding to offer training on these new laws to youth workers and other professionals who work with young people. We do not have capacity to offer training at this time but we hope to be in a position to offer training in mid-late 2015. If you are interested in training on these new laws, please email with your name, service and contact number and we will update you if and when we can offer training on at a later date.

Summary of new laws

“Failure to Disclose”

From 27 October 2014 all adults (over 18s) must report to police any reasonable belief that a sex offence has been committed by an adult against a child under the age of 16, unless they have a reasonable excuse or another exemption applies. Failure to do so is a criminal offence punishable by up to 3 years imprisonment.

For more information about the “fail to disclose” offence, including the types of sex offences that must be reported, exemptions and what may be considered a reasonable excuse, please read the following fact sheet from the Department of Justice and Regulation.

“Failure to Protect”

Another criminal offence will be introduced on 1 July 2015, or possibly sooner, to penalise those in positions of authority within organisations that provide care, supervision or authority for children who fail to protect children from the risk of sex abuse by others associated with the organisation.

An offence will be committed when:

  1. A person in authority knows that someone associated with their organisation poses a risk of committing a sexual offence against a child under the age of 16; and
  2. They had the authority to reduce or remove the risk; and
  3. They negligently failed to do so.

The maximum penalty is 5 years imprisonment.

For more information about the “failure to protect” offence, please read the following factsheet from Department of Justice and Regulation.